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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Publication Date: 3/28/2006
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 532
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Goodreads Summary:
Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.


Pattyn Von Stratten is living in a home with an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother who is overwhelmed by the amount of housework and children she has to care for.  Pattyn's life is based upon taking care of her 6 siblings, going to school, going to church, and learning to be a good Mormon girls.  It isn't until a high school librarian suggests different literature to Pattyn, such as J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, etc. that Pattyn begins to question the beliefs she has known for her entire life.  At the same time, Pattyn is beginning to discover the allure of boys and doesn't know how to handle it.  A "good" Mormon girl would not have impure thoughts that related to any type of sexual promiscuity.

It is through these doubts and questions that Pattyn begins to rebel against her father, mother, and the only religion she has ever know.  Her rebellious behavior causes her father to send her away to her Aunt J's.  Aunt J is the only relative willing to take her, even thought her father doesn't share the same beliefs as her Aunt.  It is while living here that Pattyn begins to discover herself and find out what religion is all about.  She makes her own choices and lives her life in a way in which she thinks God would approve, but yet allows her to experience love and happiness.  

Pattyn struggles throughout the book to discover who she is and who she wants to be.  She tries to overcome her struggles with faith, but has setbacks along the way.  Most books have happy ending, but the ending of this book was sad.  It wasn't what I had expected at all.  I thought Pattyn would have a happy life and the heartache and sadness, along with the abuse, would end.  Unfortunately Pattyn doesn't get that happy ending, but I'll let you discover what happens to Pattyn along the way.

Another great book by Ellen Hopkins.  She writes a book that we may not be able to relate to in terms of religious issues, but that we can certainly relate to the  feelings of the characters.  Pattyn and her family go through a lot, but it isn't handled in the right way.  I was left sad at the end of this novel, but I think the story that needed to be told was important.  There are likely many people who struggle with their religious beliefs or the beliefs of their church and don't know how to handle it.  I admit this wasn't my favorite of Hopkin's novel, but it was still a great read!

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